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Why We Don’t See Poverty Convergence: The Role of Macroeconomic Volatility


  • Jesús Crespo Cuaresma

    (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

  • Stephan Klasen

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Konstantin M. Wacker

    (The World Bank Group)


Martin Ravallion ("Why Don't We See Poverty Convergence?" American Economic Review, 102(1): 504-23; 2012) presents evidence against the existence of poverty convergence in aggregate data despite the conditional convergence of per capita income levels and the close linkage between growth and poverty reduction in standard neoclassic growth theory and associated empirics. In this contribution we address this puzzle. After showing some evidence of regional convergence, we demonstrate that macroeconomic volatility prevents countries with a higher incidence of poverty from converging in poverty levels to those with less poverty on a global scale. Once volatility is controlled for, the relevant convergence parameter shows the expected negative sign and is robust to various estimation techniques and model specifications. Only if a country’s volatility exceeds a relatively high threshold level, it no longer converges. Similarly, initial poverty only exercises a negative impact on mean (income) convergence in countries where macroeconomic volatility is high.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesús Crespo Cuaresma & Stephan Klasen & Konstantin M. Wacker, 2013. "Why We Don’t See Poverty Convergence: The Role of Macroeconomic Volatility," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 153, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:153

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ramey, Garey & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link between Volatility and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1138-1151, December.
    2. Dercon, Stefan & Christiaensen, Luc, 2011. "Consumption risk, technology adoption and poverty traps: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 159-173, November.
    3. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1993. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing, and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investment in Bullocks in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 223-244, April.
    4. Peter C. B. Phillips & Donggyu Sul, 2003. "Dynamic panel estimation and homogeneity testing under cross section dependence *," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 6(1), pages 217-259, June.
    5. Christine M. Moser & Christopher B. Barrett, 2006. "The complex dynamics of smallholder technology adoption: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(3), pages 373-388, November.
    6. Martin Ravallion, 2012. "Why Don't We See Poverty Convergence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 504-523, February.
    7. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 103-114, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jorge Thompson Araujo & Markus Brueckner & Mateo Clavijo & Ekaterina Vostroknutova & Konstantin M. Wacker, 2014. "Benchmarking the Determinants of Economic Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21318, The World Bank.
    2. Jorge Thompson Araujo & Ekaterina Vostroknutova & Markus Brueckner & Mateo Clavijo & Konstantin M. Wacker, 2016. "Beyond Commodities," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 25321, June.

    More about this item


    poverty convergence; macroeconomic volatility;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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